Peruvian Balm: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Peruvian balm: Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Both trees come from Central and South America: the Tolu balsam tree from Tolu in Colombia and the Peru balsam tree mainly from San Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Costa Rica. Some cultures exist in Jamaica and Sri Lanka. The name is based on the fact that exports used to go through Peru; however, the tree does not grow in Peru itself.

Peru balm as medicine

The drug, Peru balsam, is the soft resin of the tree. Peruvian Balm is a dark, aromatic liquid extracted from smouldering stems.


Characteristics of the Peru Balsam Tree

The Peru balsam tree is an evergreen tree up to 19 m tall with an oval crown, smooth bark, and many cork pores. The mostly unpaired leaves are usually pinnate and covered with glands. The tree bears white flowers in clusters and light brown seed pods.

Es gibt zwei Variationen des Baumes, die erste (Myroxylon balsamum var. pereirae) delivers Perubalsam, die zweite (Myroxylon balsamum var. balsamum) delivers Tolubalsam.

Extraction of Peru balsam

Peru balsam is a dark brown, viscous liquid that does not pull strings and is not sticky. Spread out in a thin layer, the colour is rather yellowish-brown.

To obtain the Balm, around 10-year-old trees are freed from the bark piece by piece towards the end of the rainy season, and the exposed areas are then smoked with fire for a few minutes. After a few days, this wound irritation causes the Balm to escape, which is soaked using a cloth placed on top. This process is repeated after a few days.

The balsam is finally obtained by boiling and squeezing the rags and separating them from the water. When the tree has recovered for a few years, Balm can be extracted from it again.


This is how Peru balsam smells and tastes.

The scent of Peru balsam is reminiscent of vanilla. The taste of the Balm is harsh and slightly bitter.

Apply Peru balm

The effect of Peru balsam is antiseptic antiparasitic and promotes wound healing. Due to its bitter taste, the Balm is unsuitable for internal use but primarily works externally as a component of ointments (5-20% Peru Balsam) and similar preparations.


External use of Peru Balsam

Specific complaints for which Peru balsam can be applied are:

  • infected and poorly healing wounds
  • Ulcers (e.g. ulcus cruris, ulcers on the lower leg)
  • Burns
  • Frostbite
  • Bedsores (decubitus)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Prosthesis pressure points

Balsam of Peru in folk medicine

In folk medicine, Peru balsam treats itching, rheumatic complaints, and head lice. It is also used previously for scabies, an itchy skin disease caused by skin mites, also called scabies. However, due to the existing allergic risk, the Balm was primarily replaced by other products.


Application in homeopathy

Balsam of Peru is used in homoeopathy for inflammation of the respiratory tract’s mucous membranes and the urinary organs’ inflammation.

Ingredients of Peru Balsam

By definition, balms are soft resins that contain cinnamic acid, benzoic acid and their esters in different concentrations. Balsam of Peru has 50-70% of an ester mixture of 2/3 benzoic acid and 1/3 cinnamic acid benzyl esters (formerly known as “Cinnamein”). Other ingredients include 20-30% resin components from benzoic acid, cinnamic acid esters of higher alcohols, and traces of vanillin and nerolidol.

Balsam of Peru: Indication

Indications for the use of Peru balsam are:

  • Wounds
  • Ulcers
  •  Burns and chilblains
  • Pressure sores and pressure sores
  • Hemorrhoids
  • itching
  • Scabies, head lice and parasitic infestations

Balsam of Peru: what dosage?

Balsam of Peru is particularly suitable for external use. It was included in several preparations (ointments and suppositories), which are rare today. Due to insufficient pharmacological data and increased allergenic risk, no approved finished medicinal product has a defined indication.

Unless otherwise prescribed, preparations containing 5-20% Peru Balsam can be used. When applied to large areas, the proportion of Peru balsam should be 10%.


Balsam of Peru: Special information

  • There is no need to make tea because the Balsam of Peru is unsuitable for internal use.
  • Peru Balsam should not be applied if you have a pronounced allergy tendency.
  • The Balsam of Peru ointment should be used for a week at maximum.
  • Store the Balm dry and protected from light.

Balsam of Peru – Synonym

German plant name: Perubalsambaum

Latin plant name: Myroxylon balsamum (L.) Harms

Latin synonyms of the plant: Myrospermum Toluiferum A.Rich., Myroxylon balsarium var. beta-pereira, Myroxylon balsamum var. balm

German drug name: Peruvian balsam

German synonyms of the drug: Salvador Balsam, Chinese Oil, Indian Balsam, Peru Balsam, Peruvian Balsam

Latin drug name: Peruvian balsam

English name: Peruvian balsam, Peru Balsam, Indian balsam, Tolu balsam, Balsam of Tolu, Balsamo (Droge); Tolu Tree, Tolu balsam tree (Pflanze)

Plant family Latin: Fabaceae (also Leguminosae)

Plant family German: legumes


Balsam of Peru – effect

Benzoic acid and its derivatives have a strong antibacterial effect and can be used as an antiseptic. Balsam of Peru further promotes wound healing because it stimulates the granulation process, i.e. the formation of new connective tissue and small vessels on wounds. The benzoic acid ester also works against certain parasites such as scabies mites.

Balsam of Peru: interactions and side effects

Approximately 2% of patients treated with Balsam of Peru show allergic skin reactions, mainly in the form of a contact allergy. In the event of an overdose, these side effects may worsen.

The allergic reactions to balsam of Peru, which in some cases occur as an undesirable effect, can be aggravated by ingesting tomatoes, spices or citrus fruits.

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